Month: July 2016

THE GREAT DISCOVERY: THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Advertisements

FORGIVENESS OPENS THE FLOODGATES OF GRACE

 512px-L_Spada_Regreso_del_hijo_pródigo_Museo_del_Louvre

“He who knows how to forgive prepares for himself many graces from God” (Saint Faustina Kowalska, Diary, 390)

It’s in your own best interest to forgive. If you’re hanging on to unforgiveness, it’s in your own best interest to let go! You don’t want to forfeit graces God wants to give you because of a refusal to forgive. God’s will is quite clear here: even though it can be quite difficult, we must forgive. Indeed, a plethora of New Testament passages, set forth below, speak to a spiritual law of the Gospel that, in essence, impedes us from seeking the Father’s mercy if we are unable to extend mercy to those who have harmed us.
 
 Luke 6:37…………………..Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
 
 Matthew 6:12……………. “and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”
 
 Matthew 6:14-15……….. “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
 
 Mark 11:25…………………..”And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
 
 Ephesians 4:32……………”Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
 
 Colossians 3:13…………..”Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
 
 Matthew 18:21-22……….”Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”
 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, echoing the scripture passages cited above, talks about how hardened, unforgiving hearts can cut-off the outpouring of mercy. The Catechism – almost getting a little emotional – talks of this situation as being “daunting.” These important words are from Section 2840 of the CCC:

2840 Now – and this is daunting – this outpouring of mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us. Love, like the Body of Christ, is indivisible; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the brother or sister we do see. In refusing to forgive our brothers and sisters, our hearts are closed and their hardness makes them impervious to the Father’s merciful love; but in confessing our sins, our hearts are opened to his grace.

Conversely, the floodgates of grace open up when we honor God’s will and courageously choose to forgive. In Life Everlasting, Father Garrigou-Lagrange, the great Dominican and mystical theologian (who once taught the future Pope John Paul II), tells us of the amazing transformation of a Jewish man he personally knew who had the courage to forgive. He relates:
 
“I knew a young Jew, the son of an Austrian banker, in Vienna. He had decided on a lawsuit against the greatest adversary of his family, a lawsuit that would have enriched him. He suddenly recalled this word of the Pater Noster, which he had sometimes heard: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” He said to himself: “How would it be if, instead of carrying on this lawsuit, I would pardon him?” He followed the inspiration, forgave completely, renounced the lawsuit. At that same moment he received the full gift of faith. This one word of the Our Father became his pathway up the mountain of life. He became a priest, a Dominican, and died at the age of fifty years. Though nothing particularly important appeared in the remainder of his life, his soul remained at the height where it had been elevated at the moment of his conversion. Step by step he mounted to the eternal youth which is the life of heaven. The moral runs thus: One great act of self-sacrifice may decide not only our whole spiritual life on earth but also our eternity. We judge a chain of mountains by its highest peak.”
 
Dear friend, Saint Faustina Kowalska tells us that we are most like God when we show mercy and forgiveness to others  (Diary 1148). But, practically speaking, it is simply in our own best interest to forgive. Why would we want to harm our own spiritual progress by hardening our hearts and refusing mercy to others? And keep in mind that God is constantly sending us actual graces to give us the courage and desire to forgive. God is all-helpful: ask Him for the power to forgive. 
 
Tom Mulcahy, M.A.
 
Reference: See Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, page 369, fn on Col. 3:12, wherein it states: “We express gratitude to the Lord by imitating his mercy in our relationships with others. In fact, extending forgiveness to others is necessary if we hope to receive the ongoing forgiveness of the Father (Mt 6:14-15;18:23-35).”  In his book, The Seven Secrets of Confession, Vinny Flynn discusses section 2840 of the CCC.

Image: Return of the Prodigal Son by Leonello Spada (1576-1622), Public Domain, U.S.A.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this post are from WordPress and not this blog.

 

THERE IS AN IMMENSE POWER IN KINDNESS

clasped-hands-541849_1920

“Love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

“But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is…kindness” (Galatians 5:22)

“The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it,” says Father Faber, “come from our conduct to each other.” Thus, he says, “if our conduct…were under the control of kindness,” we would live in a vastly happier world.

I have a little note I taped to the top rim of my computer screen which says, KINDNESS/POWER, but I have to admit that kind words do not always come out of my mouth when someone interrupts me while I’m zoned in on the internet world. Kindness is a huge virtue in the spiritual life, and one we need to put into practice more and more.

Father Faber mentions that kindness is a “considerable power.” He says that it is kindness that “makes life more endurable,” and which has the power to “make life’s capabilities blossom.” Faber says that “kindness is the overflowing of self upon others. We put others in the place of self. We treat them as we should wish to be treated ourselves.” Faber adds that “kindness adds sweetness to everything.”

The purpose of this short note is to suggest that kind words are a considerable power we have at our disposal. In fact, Faber says that kindness is “an immense power.” Grace-filled kindness is so powerful that this virtue can ripen into a fruit of the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22). A fruit of the Holy Spirit, which involves a certain perfection of a supernatural virtue, is an enormous power. We should therefore pray to the Holy Spirit for an increase of the virtue of kindness.

Faber says that “kindness seems to know of some secret fountain of joy deep in the soul” and that it offers us a “peculiar participation in the spirit of Jesus.” He says that “men do not sufficiently understand” the “value” of kindness. “The interior beauty of a soul through habitual kindliness of thought is greater than our world can tell.”

Father Faber says there is “hardly a power on earth equal to” kind words. He further points out that there are so many “fortunate opportunities” to be kind. When you think about it, the opportunity for great heroism may never come our way, but we can say kind things all day long! And what do kind words cost us? Virtually nothing! But what is lost if we fail to speak kindly? As Faber points out, kind words are not only remedial, helping those in need of encouragement, they actually produce happiness. He says, “how often have we ourselves been made happy by kind words.” It “would be worth going through fire and water to acquire the right and to find the opportunity of saying kind words.”

Faber says that “not only is kindness due everyone, but a special kindness is due everyone.” And “is there any happiness in the world like the happiness of the disposition made happy by the happiness of others?,” Faber asks. “There is no joy to be compared with it.” “Kindness is the turf of the spiritual world, whereon the sheep of Christ feed quietly beneath the Shepherd’s eye.”

Let us make a resolution, then, to be an “apostolate of kindness.” Let us reflect on what a great virtue kindness is, and what power it has to bring sunshine and happiness where there is gloom and discouragement. And through kind words the “bruised reed” will not be broken, and the “flickering candle” will not be extinguished (see Matt. 12:20), and we will see that “our neighbor is our refuge” and self “the demon foe” (George MacDonald).

I spoke a word of praise today – 
One I had no need to say – 
I spoke a word of praise to one,
Commending some small service done;
And in return, to my surprise,
I reaped rewards of mountain size.
Such a look of pleasure shone 
Upon his face – I’ll never own 
A gift more beautiful to see
Than that swift smile he gave to me.
I spoke one little word of praise, 
And  sunshine fell on both our ways.   
(from The Gift of Wonder by renowned poet Helen Lowrie Marshall)

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Ref. As you can see, I am relying almost completely on Father Faber’s famous essay, “Kindness,” in his book, Spiritual Conferences (TAN). Although a long essay it is well worth reading and meditating on. Faber’s point that a special kindness is due to everyone, if taken to heart, has the power to increase our personal holiness. One word of caution: kindness and praise must be sincere and genuine. A false kindness, a calculated kindness, is easily detected. That is why we should pray to the Holy Spirit for the supernatural growth of the virtue of kindness.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this post are from WordPress and not this blog.

 

A SURE SIGN YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH

way-918900_1920 (1)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

Here, in my opinion, is a sure sign that you are on the right path – that is, on the path that leads to Heaven. Conversely, I would maintain that it is a sure sign that something is amiss in your spiritual life if you devalue this essential means of sanctification. In short, I maintain that it is a sure sign that you are on the path leading to Eternal Life if you dearly value the Sacrament of Confession.

Our lives are in need of continual purification – this due not only to the weakness of our nature corrupted by the effects of original sin but also due to the corrupting influence of the world – and there are special purifying graces in Sacramental Confession that not only forgive our sins but also strengthen us to fight the good fight. We need these graces.

The Sacrament of Confession, established by Jesus after his Resurrection, is the most assured means to root out sin and impurity from our lives. The other day I was listening to a talk given by Father Michael Scanlan of Franciscan University, and he mentioned in his talk that he had never met a priest who hadn’t seen amazing things occur in the confessional.

When we walk out of the confessional we are forgiven, renewed, empowered and protected from evil. Confession is truly an awesome sacrament! (See John 20:22-23).

While Pope, Saint John Paul II drew attention to the healing power of Confession, saying:

“It [sacramental Confession] also performs an authentic ‘spiritual resurrection,’ restores the dignity and the good of the life of the children of God, the most precious of which is friendship with God.”

“It would be illusory to desire to reach holiness, according to the vocation that each one has received from God, without partaking frequently of this sacrament of conversion and sanctification,” that, together with the Eucharist, “accompanies the path of the Christian towards perfection.”

“Penance, by its nature,” he explained, “involves purification, in both the acts of the penitent who lays bare his conscience because of the deep need to be pardoned and reborn, and in the effusion of sacramental grace that purifies and renews.”  (May 29, 2004 Catholic New Agency)

Vom 15. bis 19. November 1980 besuchte Seine Heiligkeit Papst Johannes Paul II. die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Auf Einladung von Bundespräsident Karl Carstens hat der Papst seinen pastoralen Besuch mit einem offiziellen in Bonn verbunden. Am 15. November gab der Bundespräsident einen Empfang zu Ehren Seiner Heiligkeit auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl bei Bonn. Dort führte Papst Johannes Paul II. auch ein Gespräch mit Bundeskanzler Helmut Schmidt. Gleichzeitig traf Bundesaußenminister Hans-Dietrich Genscher mit Kardinal-Staatssekretär Casaroli zusammen. Im Anschluß an den offiziellen Teil begab sich der Papst auf den Bonner Münsterplatz, um dort eine Ansprache zu halten. Ferner bestand der pastorale Teil aus Besuchen in Köln, Osnabrück, Mainz, Fulda, Altötting und München. In allen diesen Städten hielt Papst Johannes Paul II. die Heilige Messe. Eigentlicher Anlaß seines Aufenthaltes in der Bundesrepublik war der 700. Todestag von Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), dessen Grab der Papst in Köln besuchte. Bundespräsident Karl Carstens und Papst Johannes Paul II. auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl.

Consider it a great treasure – indeed, an invaluable treasure – that you have such easy access to this Sacrament. Treasure it. Desire it. Don’t fear it, for it is a dear friend. Be so happy to confess your sins and faults. This Sacrament will take you where you want to go, “upward, onward,” to Eternal Life! 

Tom Mulcahy

Ref. I am relying most particularly on Father Lallemant who says on page 50 of The Spiritual Doctrine that Confession produces “great purity of heart,” and also that it “is a matter of moral demonstration that nothing conduces more to the progress of souls than confession and daily communion….”

Photo attribution: The photo of Pope John Paul II is by Lothar Schaack, November 15, 1980, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license (found at Wikipedia).

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this post are from WordPress and not this blog.

WHAT TWO SISTERS TEACH US ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER

 2048px-Johannes_(Jan)_Vermeer_-_Christ_in_the_House_of_Martha_and_Mary_-_Google_Art_Project (1)

THERE IS NO GOSPEL WITHOUT THE MORAL GOSPEL

 1024px-Bloch-SermonOnTheMount (1)

                       “For this is the will of God, your sanctification….” (1 Thes. 4:3)

Morality is not a consolation prize in the Catholic Church…a sort of additional benefit you get if you want to apply for it. No, Catholic morality is the very heart and soul of the Gospel, indeed, it is the very joy of the Gospel.

In the preaching of Jesus the critical importance of morality is emphasized from the beginning of his ministry. Jesus may very well have met people “where they are,” in some sense of that phrase, but only to point them in the direction of living profoundly by the moral Gospel. Thus, in his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), preached at the commencement of his ministry, Jesus lays out a “manifesto” which is “a compendium of the moral code of Christianity” (Catholic Bible Dictionary, page 828). “He teaches on anger, adultery, marriage and divorce, oaths, retaliation, love for enemies, and alms-giving” (Id at 828). The fundamental importance of the moral life is firmly established – sometimes very dramatically –  in the preaching of Jesus. The beatitudes themselves represent the very highest moral perfection attainable in this life.

The Gospel is a call to holiness which will ultimately result in your complete and utter sanctification in Heaven. Therefore, there is no Gospel without the moral Gospel. To preach the Gospel is to preach holiness of life in imitation of Jesus and the Saints. To peach the Gospel is to preach a break with sin and a new life of grace in Christ. To preach the Gospel is to lead sinners to repentance. When we first hear someone preaching the Gospel, what do we hear: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1: 2-4).

The modern tendency to preach the Gospel without reference to its moral demands will only lead to an “obscuring of the moral sense” (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 106). Saint John Paul II teaches us that the “New Evangelization” must include the presentation of the moral Gospel. The Pope stated:

“Evangelization — and therefore the “new evangelization” — also involves the proclamation and presentation of morality. Jesus himself, even as he preached the Kingdom of God and its saving love, called people to faith and conversion (cf. Mk 1:15). And when Peter, with the other Apostles, proclaimed the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, he held out a new life to be lived, a “way” to be followed, for those who would be disciples of the Risen One (cf. Acts 2:37-41; 3:17-20). Just as it does in proclaiming the truths of faith, and even more so in presenting the foundations and content of Christian morality, the new evangelization will show its authenticity and unleash all its missionary force when it is carried out through the gift not only of the word proclaimed but also of the word lived. In particular,the life of holiness which is resplendent in so many members of the People of God, humble and often unseen, constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law, even in the most difficult situations. For this reason, the Church, as a wise teacher of morality, has always invited believers to seek and to find in the Saints, and above all in the Virgin Mother of God “full of grace” and “all-holy”, the model, the strength and the joy needed to live a life in accordance with God’s commandments and the Beatitudes of the Gospel.” (Veritatis Splendor, 107)

 Saint John Paul II also reminded us that God’s Mercy is given to us to forgive, not justify, sin.

“In this context, appropriate allowance is made both for God’s mercy towards the sinner who converts and for the understanding of human weakness. Such understanding never means compromising and falsifying the standard of good and evil in order to adapt it to particular circumstances. It is quite human for the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings; what is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without even the need to have recourse to God and his mercy. An attitude of this sort corrupts the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing all judgments about values.” (Veritatis Splendor, 104).

Our children deserve to hear the full Gospel – that is to say they deserve to hear the Gospel preached without neutering its moral imperative. There is no Gospel without the moral Gospel because Jesus came to save us from sin.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners….” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Note: The panoply of virtues and gifts given to us in baptism, which flow from sanctifying grace, are supernatural strengths with which to lead a moral life.

Reference: I had a Professor who once said: “There is no Gospel without the moral Gospel.”

ImageSermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch, Public Domain, U.S.A.

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this post are from WordPress and not this blog.